Wisconsin almost always gives the Michigan women’s basketball team trouble. Every veteran on the Michigan team knows that. And it was again apparent in the Wolverines 68-48 loss at the Kohl Center in Madison on Sunday.
The Wolverines (2-4 Big Ten, 10-6 overall) tied it up three times in the first half but never took the lead, finishing the first 20 minutes down by four. Michigan knew it had to come out more aggressive in the second half to prevent Wisconsin from pulling further ahead.
But the Wolverines gave the Badgers just what they wanted – their second consecutive conference win.
The Wolverines shot below 40 percent in the first half but Wisconsin struggled as well, shooting only a little above 40 percent. But when the Badgers (3-2, 13-4) picked up the tempo and shot 60 percent in the second half, Michigan couldn’t keep up.
“We never play a game when we are going to give up,” senior center Krista Phillips said. “I think that was part of the problem is that we took ourselves out of the game. We came back at the beginning of the second half and then a couple went to them and we just couldn’t get on top of it. We are always trying to get on top of it but we got to do our job to not get ourselves in that position in the first place.”
It’s hard to say what the cause of the offensive woes were, but poor shooting coupled with inadequate defense prevented the Wolverines from ever finding a rhythm.
“We just didn’t get any good shots,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “We had no rhythm offensively at all. We got mentally beat up at the other end of the court.”
The Wolverines successfully kept the Badgers out of the paint in the first half, holding the Badgers to 26 points. But Wisconsin changed its scheme in the second half and weaved its way through Michigan’s man defense to finish the game with 26 points in the paint compared to Michigan’s eight.
But the Wolverines didn’t let the game get away until a couple minutes into the second half. They opened the half with two quick shots from Phillips and sophomore forward Carmen Reynolds to tie the score at 26 for the fourth and final time. Wisconsin then went on a 12-0 run to achieve its biggest lead before poor offense and defense by Michigan allowed the Badgers to gain a 24-point lead with four minutes remaining.
If they could have found their rhythm and gone on a run in the last ten minutes of the game like they did in last years 58-54 loss to Wisconsin, things might have been different.
“There’s going to be ups and downs in games,” Borseth said after Michigan’s victory over Iowa at Crisler Thursday. “There’s momentum switches and that’s kind of how it goes. It’s hard to play 40 minutes of basketball and make every shot, play 40 minutes of basketball and have them miss every shot, that just doesn’t happen. So they are going to make runs. The key to games is that you get more runs than they get.”